70 sacked workers stage protest
Manama, August 2, 2011
Around 70 Bahraini workers dismissed from their jobs during Bahrain's unrest staged a flash protest yesterday (August 1) inside the Labour Ministry, in Isa Town.
Some of the workers came with their children to protest against their dismissals, carrying banners that highlighted the hardships families were facing.
The workers, from the pubic and private sectors, gathered at the lobby on the ground floor of the building and shouted slogans demanding their reinstatement without further delay or conditions.
The protest continued for over an hour with dismissed workers demanding to meet Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan.
"Ten workers representing the group of sacked workers later met the Minister and discussed their demands," said Ministry Under-Secretary Sabah Al Dossary, who attended the meeting.
He said the Minister spoke extensively with representatives of the sacked workers and assured them each case of dismissed staff was being evaluated.
Al Dossary said the Minister told the representatives a committee headed by him was studying all cases to ensure workers unfairly sacked resumed their duties.
"It is important to hear the views from both sides, especially regarding the dismissals," he said. "The Minister explained that we were flexible in our approach and clearly stated that the reinstatement process would be difficult for workers with criminal records."
Al Dossary said this was according to the law, unless there was an order from higher authorities to reinstate all employees.
"We have so far not found any company that illegally dismissed its staff, especially during the critical unrest period," said Al Dossary. "Private companies were affected during this unfortunate period and laid off some staff. But if we find any company has dismissed its staff illegally, action will be taken."
Humaidan earlier said that 564 workers were reinstated, so far, while dismissals of 370 workers had nothing to do with recent incidents.
He also said that 244 sacked workers didn't submit any complaints after they found other jobs, made settlements or retired.
Last month, Alba announced it reinstated 70 dismissed staff, taking the total number of sacked workers returning to 204.
The Cabinet announced on July 3 that private sector workers sacked in the aftermath of the unrest in February and March would be reinstated. It agreed only those found not to have committed a crime or neglected their professional duties would be taken back.
Their reinstatement will depend on results of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding their sackings and whether they were legal.
The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) had earlier registered over 2,500 sacked workers to be listed for the monthly unemployment insurance scheme.
The Labour Ministry-backed scheme offers university diploma or degree holders a monthly assistance of BD150 ($398) and BD120 for undergraduates.
The GFBTU called a nationwide strike on February 20, but called it off after security forces withdrew from the then GCC (Pearl) Roundabout.
It then announced an indefinite strike on March 13 in solidarity with anti-government protesters, after police tried to evict demonstrators from outside the Bahrain Financial Harbour. Protesters prevented many staff from reaching workplaces by blocking King Faisal Highway in Manama and attacked police who tried to remove them.
The union later said the strike would be called off once it was safe for workers to resume their duties. – TradeArabia News Service